How To Play The Dating Game In Your 20s

Amanda Pena
Amanda Pena is one of those bridge and tunnel people that frequents the city for her job and the Chipotle on every other block. She hopes to be the next Cheryl Strayed and touch people's lives through her writing and/or find the best prosciutto deli in Manhattan.

I say a dating game because, let’s face it, at 20something you’re essentially playing this game in which you are bouncing in and out of emotional-roller coaster dates and relationships. There comes a point in your twenties, however, when you finally have that light bulb moment, that moment that sheds away the disappointing past before this epiphany opens up a brand new world of exciting possibilities. The moment that gets you excited to finally start the search for (drum roll) “the one.”

As much as we’d like to believe that our twenties are much like our teenage years of dating nonchalantly (not realizing that our boyfriend’s obsession with teenage mutant ninja turtles figurines was a problem), they’re more about that journey that we embark upon when looking for that special someone.

When you were in your teens and just about to enter your 20something life stage, the future and all of its unanswered questions seemed so far away. We put an IOU post-it on those years and meant to get back to it once we were prepared to finally deal with it. However, there really is no point in our lives where we are truly prepared for any type of outcome. It just swoops over us and we’re forced to deal with it or sink below. That’s how the dating world instantly changes once you get past your drunken 21st birthday. Suddenly the idea of marriage becomes more apparent, living with your parents is not so ideal if you’d like to develop a serious relationship, and you find yourself yearning for a love that transcends beyond anything we could have ever imagined.

Dates are full of so many more expectations because you’re not looking to just casually date anymore (Tinder-goers need not apply). You enter it with such a positive attitude, hoping that this person notices your cologne or perfume doused shirt and comes out of the restaurant realizing that you’re both truly meant for each other and this has to work. I mean, why wouldn’t it, right? You’re both in your twenties and you’re both looking for love.

Well, that’s where we’re wrong. We’re wrong in that we are letting our nerves get in the way of an experimental dating experience. We’re wrong in that we are burdening future possibilities – and ourselves – with a mental checklist. And we’re wrong in not understanding that love is patient and, although it is a bit frightening to think that in a few years we could possibly settle down when the closest thing we have to a relationship now is our wasted 1 AM calls to our ex, we will get there.

At some point in our odd and confusing twenties we’ll meet that person. And if we don’t, so what? The dating game that we play at 20something does not limit our chances of finding love, but actually increases them. Dates with uninteresting conversations get immediately discarded, and we begin to narrow in on that kind of person that we are looking for. Your preferences change, along with your self-confidence and perceived worth. Once those aspects suddenly come into play, love will reveal itself. Trust that.

“When you’re in your early 20s your love life seems to explode every 20 minutes or so…” – Patrick Marber. You will meet countless individuals in your twenties; however, those individuals don’t necessarily translate to full blown relationships because we’re afraid we’ll find nothing more. We will. So explore, and let your love life develop and bloom. Love develops alongside your personal growth, so take your twenties to transform into the person you’re on your way to becoming, and it will be waiting for you at the other end.


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